Park police draw guns, handcuff Black teens at Minnehaha Falls

Brianna Lindell/Facebook

Video of Black teenagers handcuffed by park police at Minnehaha Regional Park has sparked community outrage. The Facebook video shows two of the four Black teens sitting on the ground, one pleading for his shirt for protection from mosquito bites.

Minneapolis Parks Police Department officers drew guns on and handcuffed the teens in response to a 911 call about a “dangerous and escalating” situation involving knives and guns, said Communications and Marketing Director for the Parks, Dawn Sommers.

The 911 caller said the boys were threatening her boyfriend and one of them claimed to have a gun in his backpack. However, Brianna Lindell, who posted the video, said she witnessed the caller’s boyfriend “spouting racial slurs at [the teens] and aggressing them with a metal trash can lid and saying he had a knife.”

The caller and her boyfriend were not at the scene when police arrived, and no weapons were found on the teens or at the scene, according to an official statement from the park’s department.

The parks police assigned an investigator today to contact the caller and her boyfriend, but have been unsuccessful, said Minneapolis Parks Department Police Chief Jason Ohatta. Because of their reluctance to come forward, Ohatta said, “at this point, there is a chance some of that information was fabricated.” Falsely reporting a crime is a misdemeanor level criminal offense in the State of Minnesota.

“That’s what White people do now, they use the cops as their own personal service,” Lindell can be heard in the video saying in reference to the recurrence of White people calling the police on African Americans barbequing, mowing a lawn, and other perceived offenses.

 

Three of the teens, ranging from ages 13-16, were released at the scene and one, who was a runaway, was taken to the local Juvenile Supervision Center.

Lindell, who was not on site until after police arrived, said other witnesses of the altercation told her the officers “jumped out of their cars, guns already drawn, with the guns right in the children’s faces.”

The officers involved were wearing body cameras that were activated throughout the entire the incident. Interim Park Superintendent Mary Merrill and Ohatta are requesting an independent investigation of the incident to determine whether park police policies, procedures, and laws were followed.

Ohatta said after the investigation, the department will determine if there is value in releasing the footage to the public. “Our officers work really, really hard to keep our parks safe. I’m sorry that this has eroded public trust and we will work really hard to get that trust back,” Ohatta said.

Minneapolis Park Board President Brad Bourn said he has received multiple inquiries from people about the incident. “The children in the video are safe and with their families,” he wrote on Facebook. “The best thing the Park Board can do is invest in our kids and provide them fun, positive, structured activities to engage in. For the last decade, investment in our youth has been virtually stagnant.”

Bourn also asked for people who may have additional video footage or information to call 612-423-9901 or send an email to bbourn@minneapolisparks.org.

About Keith Schubert

Keith Schubert is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder. He can be reached at kschubert@spokesman-recorder.com.

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6 Comments on “Park police draw guns, handcuff Black teens at Minnehaha Falls”

  1. How ridiculous are these people. Police doing their jobs, and well, is all I see in this video.

    1. Yes, of course!! They let a kid get eaten by Mosquito and they yet they are the victims of racial abuse. Sure feels great when thugs burn down federal land and get pardoned by a piss freak birther bigot and black teens are a threat to AmeriKKKa even when they are victims.

    2. dumb ass you dont draw guns on kids unless you see them in a threatening act. white trash like u use the cops to terrorize blacks. black children are the only ones getting guns put in their face by the white trash in blue and our black children are the only ones dying by the white trash in blue. When ever white children are being killed by police or terrorized by white police, then you may have an argument but its only the black children and blacks being harassed by the white trash in blue

    3. I’m a 60 year old white woman and the police have become so volatile that I’d be afraid to call them in many legitimate circumstances—which this was NOT. The white woman who called police alleging these Black kids were a threat was NOT at the scene and put these youth at risk of being brutalized or killed for NOTHING. You’d think in the age of cyber-surveillance, they could pinpoint the white caller who made this FALSE call for service. Since there are witnesses to white caller’s boyfriend being aggressive towards these young people, it’s the WHITE COUPLE who should be investigated and charged—both for what the boyfriend did to these kids and to the white woman for calling the cops on false charges. Thankfully, these kids were NOT hurt–but, too often police FAIL to follow POLICE PROCEDURE and come up on a situation (where they’re supposed to hang back and assess first), then, SHOOT IN SECONDS. From 12 year old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio to Justine Ruzszyc Damond (calling 911 about an assault happening in the alley behind her home) in south Minneapolis, people can LOSE THEIR LIVES when police are called. I AGREE with those comments here, saying, if you call the cops on people who are NOT DOING ANYTHING CRIMINAL (having BBQin park in designated area, waiting for bus, playing in public park as these Black youth were–then, making false call to police should result in charges and (one hopes) some time in jail.

  2. People who wrongly call 911 on blacks are people who WANT to see the police shoot them.
    Racism is inherently evil, but when you take actual ACTION to harm the people you hate, you have committed a serious crime, and your evil becomes towering.
    It’s time that municipal authorities and police departments announce that calling 911 against innocent blacks will be taken as a criminal offense, and the callers will be prosecuted.
    Such callers are wasting taxpayer money by diverting the police from their real work. But the worst part is the high possibility that someone (usually black) will be shot. Which is the whole point of the exercise. And even if they aren’t shot, they can be sure the black people will be handcuffed and humiliated. At its very best, this tactic is intended to intimidate.

    While the white ones, the perpetrators, go scot free.

    It must be assumed that if the people are innocent, that the caller’s intentions were highly malevolent and sadistic. Trying to get someone shot is a serious crime. I’m glad that at least this time, the police did not shoot anyone.
    But what about next time?

  3. Looks like police did a fine job here. They were told the kids may have a weapon, came promptly and reacted appropriately.

    I don’t know if the lady lied about the kids saying they have a gun/knife, I wasn’t there and don’t know what they said. Maybe they did, I’ve certainly seen kids that age act aggressively before.

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